Accomplishments

When we raised the statewide minimum wage in 2013, before movement organizers had convinced most politicians, I fought for an even larger raise. I was also the first male legislator to sign on to affirmative consent convincing many of my colleagues to do the right thing. Every year, I lead the bill to restore felon voting rights, a once radical issue that I’m proud to have made bipartisan.

Local Government

  • Capitol Long-Range Implementation Committee (CLIC): In 2007, I was appointed by Mayor Rybak to CLIC and served until 2012. During that time, I served as the chair of the human development task force
  • Bottineau Light Rail Transit Policy Advisory Committee: From 2010-2013, I served as a core team member and co-facilitator in developing proposed routes for LRT in North Minnapolis
  • Northside Residential Redevelopment Council: From 2005-2012, I served on the board of my neighborhood association, supporting Willard-Hay and Near North
  • Great Cities Design Team: I was selected by Mayor Rybak to serve as a team member for 2006-07. Projects I assisted included the Washington Avenue re-design and the Penn Ave. and Lowry Ave. project

Criminal Justice Reform

  • Ban the Box: I was the chief architect of a bill to ban employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background
  • Drug Sentencing Reform: I prevented Republicans from blocking reduced sentencing reforms for nonviolent crimes
  • Justice 4 All: My first involvement in community organizing was with the Justice 4 All program at TakeAction MN, working to change our criminal justice system. As a state legislator, I have carried the bill to restore voting rights to felons every year

Housing

  • Housing Bond: I’ve helped to secure over $200 million in funding for affordable housing programs statewide
  • Homeless and Highly Mobile Families: Established a pilot program with the Northside Achievement Zone that provided rental assistance to homeless and highly mobile families with school aged children
  • Housing for low-wealth people with HIV/AIDS: Worked with a coalition to pass reforms that allowed for Clare Housing– an affordable housing complex that also provides supports services for individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS– to fully function
  • LEED Accredited Professional: Received LEED accredidation in 2006, a cerficication measuring an individual's competence in environmentally-friendly building design

Policing

  • Training: I secured funding for every officer statewide to go through conflict de-escalation, cultural competency, mental health response, and implicit bias training
  • Stopping Anti-Protest Bills: This past session Republicans at the legislature attempted to pass two bills to criminalize nonviolent protests. With the support of movement organizations and other legislators, we fought back the bill
  • Incident Footage Review: I blocked legislation that would have stripped local jurisdictions of their ability to hold officers accountable for falsifying reports using incident footage
  • Body Camera Policy: Last year, I advocated for the default status of police body cameras to be on at all times

Healthcare

  • Access to Healthcare: Voted in favor of MNsure, legislation that provides health care coverage to all Minnesotans, resulting in a 98% insured rate by 2017
  • Clean Needle Cxchange: This year, I sponsored legislation to expand access to syringe exchange programs statewide to reduce disease transmission and save lives

Workers

  • Minimum Wage: Sponsored the legislation at the state-level to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50
  • Expanding Parental Leave: Fought for the bill which expanded mandatory parental leave from six to twelve weeks.
  • Beating Back Preemption: Republicans, working on behalf of the Minnesota Restaurant Association and other big businesses, attempted to pass a bill preventing Minneapolis from raising the minimum wage and implementing earned sick and safe time. I fought this effort every step of the way—at protests and rallies, in committee meetings, and on the floor of the House

Education

  • Universal Kindergarten: Advocated to pass a bill to fund all-day, no-cost kindergarten for children statewide
  • Expanding Access to Pre-K Statewide: Co-authored legislation to fund a voucher program to allow families statewide to send their children to pre-kindergarten
  • Fighting to Keep North High School Open: In 2010 there was an effort to close North High School. I fought with a coalition of community members and organizations to keep the high school open. Since then, it has increased graduation rates by 40%
  • Affirmative Consent: I was the first male legislator at the Capitol to sponsor the legislation to require affirmative consent standards at our state’s universities and colleges
  • Tuition Freeze: Passed two year tuition freeze for all in-state students at all public higher educations institutions, saving the average incoming first-year student over two thousand dollars a year

Environment

  • Expanding Clean Energy Access for Small Businesses: I authored a bill that increased for small business owners to reduce their carbon footprint by financing investments on their tax assessment
  • Lead-testing for Water in Minnesota Schools: I worked to pass a bill that required water to be tested for lead in schools statewide
  • Bush Fellowship: In 2012, I received a Bush Fellowship to study the effect built environments have on the health and well-being of both individuals and communities

Transit

  • Bottineau Light Rail Project: I was appointed by the Minneapolis Urban League to serve on the Bottineau Light Rail Policy Advisory Committee
  • Funding the 26th Avenue Bikeway: Through my work with the Capital Longer Range Investment Committee, I worked to secure funding for the 26th Avenue N bikeway that connects Theodore Wirth Park to the Mississippi River
  • Washington Avenue Re-Design: I was appointed to the Great City Design Team and worked with the team to create a pedestrian-friendly corridor along Washington Avenue

Community Organizing

  • Foreclosure Crisis: During the 2008 home foreclosure crisis, I knocked doors with the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition to connect neighbors who were struggling with mortgage payments with services to help keep them in their home
  • 2011 North Minneapolis Tornado: After the deadly tornado destroyed homes in North Minneapolis, I worked under the American Institute of Architects to provide designs services and assistance to families affected by the tornado
  • Single Sort Recycling: When Hennepin County introduced single-sort recycling, I participated in the pilot outreach program to connect with people in my neighborhood around the value of single-sort recycling
  • Vote No: After winning my primary election in 2012, I spent the remainder of my summer and fall doorknocking my district to defeat both the marriage and voter ID ballot initiatives

Intergovernmental Work

  • Funding for Transit Projects: Through bonding bills, I have secured funding for the Bottineau Light Rail, the Southwest Light Rail, and the Penn Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Way
  • Funding for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB): In my work at the Capitol, I secured funding for the MPRB, including summer youth employment programs
  • Nicollet Mall Redesign Funding: Secured $21 million in funding for the Nicollet Mall renovation project

Infrastructure

  • Capital Long Range Implementation Committee (CLIC): I was appointed by Mayor Rybak to serve on CLIC for five years where I successfully advocated for increased funding for construction and maintenance of bike and pedestrian infrastructure
  • Funding for Our City’s Parks: Through CLIC, I worked to re-establish a relationship between the city and the Park Board, which resulted in more funding for the operation and maintenance of Minneapolis’ parks system

Small Business

  • Statewide Growler Bill: Craft beer brings a significant economic value to our city’s economy, which is why I wrote the growler bill, allowing small beer breweries to increase their production from 5,000 barrels to 25,000 barrels without losing the ability to operate their taprooms
  • Owned Small Business: I co-owned a small construction business of a dozen employees, building, repairing, and refinishing homes